By Roger Normand

Human rights activists Roger Normand and Sarah Zaidi offer a huge political background of the emergence and improvement of the human rights stream in the 20 th century in the course of the crucible of the United countries, concentrating on the hopes and expectancies, concrete energy struggles, nationwide rivalries, and bureaucratic politics that molded the foreign method of human rights legislations. The booklet emphasizes the interval ahead of and after the construction of the UN, whilst human rights principles and recommendations have been formed and reworked by means of the hard-edged realities of strength politics and bureaucratic imperatives. It additionally analyzes the growth of the human rights framework based on calls for for equitable improvement after decolonization and arranged efforts by way of ladies, minorities, and different deprived teams to safe overseas acceptance in their rights.

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Additional resources for Human Rights at the UN: The Political History of Universal Justice (United Nations Intellectual History Project)

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This book focuses largely on the decision-making and law-making aspects of the first UN, although there is also some emphasis on civil society interventions. While the second and third UNs have undoubtedly played an influential role in expanding the reach of human rights, it is the member states that have negotiated the instruments and set UN policy on issues of global importance. The UN is not a democracy; the examples of Afghanistan and Iraq discussed in the preface illustrate how a handful of the most powerful states are able to override the concerns of most individuals and institutions associated with the second and third UNs.

But how can one sketch an accurate picture of history when it is comprised of so many different actors and points of view? What does it mean to provide an objective accounting of past ideas and past events? Whose ideas and whose histories count? These concerns are only heightened in writing a history of human rights, an ideology meant to reflect universal values existing above and independent of individual ideas and historical circumstances. In this context, the question becomes, whose rights count?

The scientific and industrial revolutions, which challenged state and religious authorities, found their ideological counterpart in a political philosophy that challenged ruling ideas of law and governance. These philoso- introduction 13 phers represented the intellectual vanguard of historical struggles centered in Britain and its American colonies, led by the rising power of merchants and bourgeoisies seeking to wrest political control from feudal structures and reduce their arbitrary authority over property and trade.

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